Midsommar ★½

It is an understood precept to watch The Wicker Man preceding what comes as its pastiche-film makeover Midsommar. Critics and horror-obsessives alike continue to revere Ari Aster's art, and act as if Midsommar is the second-coming of the 'true horror' filmmaking since whatever period the genre was at its heightened authenticity. Dating to exactly when(?), their preferred reference always eventually gets unsure. When, horror, in the truest perfect form dating back to the 30's, under the direction of Dreyer or the genre-altering zombie flicks by Romero to Dario Argento's giallo, in broad strokes, offers the idea of gradual ascension of 'true horror' to where we have hit the shore with Ari Aster's upcoming voice into the scene, said to be handed down the torch resuming where 'true horror' left off.

When it comes as close as to flipping The Wicker Man's plot and themes over its tail, avoiding comparing the two would jeopardize the legacy of the 70's horror classic. In short, to recollect, Robin Hardy's The Wicker Man and Ari Aster's Midsommar both are a maddening portrait of cult festivities gone berserk, premeditated or not. The 'prelude' of Midsommar commences with an eerie folk singing, then intercepted by a loud phone call. This specific bit alone is telling of an angle approached by the filmmaker, a cliche modern twist foreshadowing the failure of connection and evoking a sense of paranoia. There, the introduction works inward the idea of the film against The Wicker Man's firm interpretive philosophy. In Midsommar, the main character, Dani, is built on today's view of an optimized strong lead glamorized through faux relatability in dejection, overseen by Aster's sadistic vision and knowledge of youth culture. The divergence of two films is apparent in their choosing of plot detour, Midsommar tumbles in quick seconds after the spectacles of the cult's celebration, jolly expressions, scanning to stay in line, focused on the camera, as opposed to The Wicker Man's timid unwelcoming atmosphere on all fronts from the very disorienting change-up of musical cues to the unsettling groupings of people. Midsommar cuts short on either its get-to-know-the-place and 'anthropology' of any its characters. All around, at the end the film's both thematic routes go unexplored.

Once Ari Aster figured out how to cheat characters by utilizing responses to, let's round up to 10 shocking shots - including brief glimpses of body deformities and close-up of torn-up bodies - that is where the unintentional essence of the film is truly felt. The mode of expressions Aster is after from his audiences are fear and disgust, indeed, but more so the disgust at his smug up-tight 'get-you' moments through demeaning sex and nudity. I believe horror hasn't stooped so low to give a pass on those few scenes. At last, Midsommar is a game of counting, the number of bludgeoned body parts, and the number of minutes left hurriedly waiting for it to end.

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